Square Enix brings a mystery game with Die Hard roots to PS4 and Xbox One

The ghostly tricks of a phantom detective.

Like so many things, it started with Die Hard. At a preview event on Wednesday, Square Enix executive producer Naoto Sugiyama told me that the seed of inspiration that would grow into the game Murdered: Soul Suspect was planted when the game's creative director, Yosuke Shiokawa, was watching the 1988 action classic. The film's hero, John McClane, will seemingly stop at nothing to thwart the criminals who have taken over Nakatomi Plaza and rescue his wife and the other hostages in the process. But what if McClane got killed, Shiokawa wondered? Would he stop then? What if McClane's determination were so strong that not even death could stop him from accomplishing his goal?

True to this inspiration, Murdered: Soul Suspect began its development as a much more action-focused game than what it is today. But as Sugiyama told me, the narrative hook, the idea of a detective trying to solve his own murder, seemed so interesting that it only made sense to bring that to the forefront of the game and let players experience that investigation for themselves. So now, that investigation is the focus of the game. Having just been rudely murdered by a killer whose attack sends him plummeting out of a fourth-floor apartment, the now-ghostly Salem, Massachusetts, cop Ronan O'Connor cannot move on from this world and be reunited with his beloved (and similarly deceased) Julie until he has resolved the business of his own unsolved murder.

Sugiyama said that some people accuse the developers of copying the conceptually similar game Ghost Trick, but in fact Murdered has been in development since well before Ghost Trick's release. The game I played at the event reminded me more of L.A. Noire than of Capcom's colorful adventure game. Ronan may be a modern-day cop, but he has an old-fashioned sense of style, and the investigations I spent most of my time engaged in felt similar to the crime scene investigations in Team Bondi's 2011 game. However, Ronan's status as a member of the recently deceased gives him a few abilities that L.A. Noire's Cole Phelps could only dream of using.

For one thing, unlike Cole Phelps (and, you know, real people), Ronan is no longer impeded by walls. You can walk right through them as you poke around any interior. You can't walk through just any wall in the game, though, and just as I was wondering why, the game presented me with its narrative justification for this gameplay limitation. Not long after being killed, you meet a young woman whose clothing tells you that either she was killed while rehearsing for a high school production of The Crucible or her spirit has actually been lingering in Salem since the witch trials of the late 17th century. She explains that spirits can't pass through the exterior walls of any building that the people of Salem have consecrated. Once you get in, though, through an open door or window or other opening, you can laugh in the face of every wall you meet.

So, playing through an early investigation in the game, I wandered freely around the apartment in which I'd been attacked, looking for evidence that would help me piece together the killer's intentions. The question I was there to answer, "Why was the killer here?" hovered in blue letters in the center of the apartment. Using my reveal ability, fragments of ghostly figures could be filled out to reveal moments from the past, and I soon found ethereal images lingering in the apartment of the killer stalking a teenage girl who might have witnessed him committing an earlier murder. Solving the investigation was then a matter of answering the question "Why was the killer here?" by selecting the most relevant clues (the searching killer, the hiding witness) from among all the clues I'd found at the scene.

Ronan O'Connor has had better days.

Ronan also has the ability to pop into people's bodies and listen to their thoughts, or try to influence those thoughts by planting images taken from clues he's discovered. I needed to use this technique to solve an optional side investigation; the spirit of a young woman who had been murdered couldn't move on from this world until she learned what had become of her body. By planting a thought of the young woman in the mind of a grumpy old man who lived in a nearby apartment, I got him thinking about the night that his wife, furious at the noise that the young woman and her partying friends were making, flew off the handle and attacked the victim. Then I popped into his wife's body and planted a thought of the attack in her head, which led to her spilling the beans--as part of her internal monologue--about what had become of the young woman's body. Now that's what I call good police work.

If Murdered: Soul Suspect can consistently use sound logic in its investigations, and can fashion the process of piecing together the details of Ronan's murder into a satisfying mystery tale, Airtight Games and Square Enix could be on to something here. The gameplay felt a bit rough to me; button prompts to uncover clues were sometimes finicky, causing me to miss important details at times even though I'd been standing very close to them. But it's good to see a major release on the horizon that owes a great deal to point-and-click adventures and that's more interested in engaging your mind than your reflexes. I'm looking forward to uncovering more of its mysteries when the game is released in June.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

50 comments
renerak
renerak

Square PC too please.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Definitely got my eye on this, I really liked the basic formula of L.A.  Noire, but felt it could have been much better if it focused more purely on the detective work, so this might be that game!  Will keep an open mind for it.

translucent17
translucent17

im sure it will be great just like all the other games they've released recently......oh wait......

Rennik_Repotsir
Rennik_Repotsir

"...a detective trying to solve his own murder."

Sounds more like Ghost than Die Hard...

radcrab123
radcrab123

what game did this already years ago oh let me think..oh yeah it was called GHOST TRICK PHANTOM DETECTIVE

sirgamesaaalot
sirgamesaaalot

where is the final fantasy 7 remake.... no one needs this :)

ccgod
ccgod

title is miss leading was def hoping to see bruce willis :(  

and the murderer is an awful shot

-s3r6i0-
-s3r6i0-

Another winner from Square Enix. (syke)

Lazay727
Lazay727

If I preorder, do I get a final fantasy 7 outfit?

hystavito
hystavito

I would never have imagined the Die Hard connection, but it makes more sense when they said the game was originally action-focused.

Johny_47
Johny_47

Investigate. 

- But not alone =P

hadlee73
hadlee73

Been interested in this game since it was first announced. I do hope there's a decent mystery to the story line.

Evanduil
Evanduil

Wait. You're not going to rag on about how the protagonist is a masculine male and that's not ok with you?


Where's the real Carolyn?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

If they copied Ghost Trick then they're doing something right.


Finally a new IP from Square Enix that actually looks interesting.

jeddawey
jeddawey

I like Thief, and now Murdered on the way. hopefully the year continues on like this for me.

Alecmrhand
Alecmrhand

This sounds like a mental action game. I enjoy those. Ill have to keep an eye on this game. June huh? Im not sure why im looking forward to summer more.....the games, or finally getting rid of the cold weather.....its friggin freezin' in Pennsylvania again.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

This sounds a bit dull. Perhaps what's needed is a challenge for Ronan while he's in "spirit" form. As it stands, I don't think the narrative is compelling enough to do without some action.

XCyberForceX
XCyberForceX

Hope this isn't a, CSI: Astral Agent, type of game.

CaveManCobb
CaveManCobb

Maybe Square Enix should drop Final Fantasy for a while.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Is that Ellen Page in the top picture? Will she lash out at this game as well, now?

itsuhsjan
itsuhsjan

I want this to be a good game, but it will likely be another disappointment in a subpar genre.

benleslie5
benleslie5 moderator

Likely more info on the game closer to the release of it

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

Thanks Carolyn.  I'm really looking forward to this game, because the whole premise and setting is interesting.  I like a good murder mystery, and it's encouraging to hear that the investigation aspects are sound.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

This would probably be one of the games that's really good but goes unnoticed because of the biggies....then someone in two years will declare it a cult classic and so on...

gamerno66666
gamerno66666

Funny how opinion works. It seems carolyn is more intrigued by the game and over at ign their preview seemed to be disappointing.

Elranzer
Elranzer

So far it looks like a 360/PS3 game with no real improvements on the PS4/XB1.

robbiejones
robbiejones

@nl_skipper  agreed. Also if L.A Noire had other ways to crack investigations instead of the linear way

ccgod
ccgod

@Lazay727 they already said they're too lazy to make a good final fantasy game

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Don't worry gamespot will give it a 6 because it doesn't have enough heavy rain in your murdered game.

hystavito
hystavito

@Evanduil  People are really hammering Gamespot on the gender issues :).


Their response is mostly dismissive, which I don't like.  I'm not saying I agree with the users commenting on it, but I feel the number of comments is an indication that it's not just some trolling garbage, or some internet bad guys spewing hate or something.

naruto945
naruto945

@Evanduil  Writing a article about why there are no female titans in titanfall probably... Its like we get it! Women are equal to men! Whoopdeedooo!!

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

@road_rage_april   You can play as a female detective in these games:

Still Life 1 & 2

Art Of Murder: FBI Confidential

Art Of Murder: Cards of Destiny

Art Of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer

Culpa Innata

Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy)

Blackwell Series (technically an investigating journalist rather than a detective - but accompanied by a ghost)

Ovirew
Ovirew

@road_rage_april http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_detective_characters

Actually, I do remember a few specific video games with a female detective.  Indigo Prophecy comes to mind, though that character wasn't the true main character of the game.

I see that there was an alien detective in Mass Effect 2. Again, not a main character though.

 remember there is this series of old point and click games starring a female detective, and I remember someone here at GS interviewed the lady that works on the games and she was trying to crowd-fund a new sequel.  I wish I could remember the name, but I can't seem to.

Oh, and I think the girl from Parasite Eve was a detective?

Bregzeinkul
Bregzeinkul

@gamerno66666  Carolyn seems to be the type of gamers that pay more attention to style than how the game actually plays. I have seen her complained about Infamous 2 because of what the main char wears on the ads. Not that I have anything against her, but I wouldn't want her opinion on which game to play.

Bubbagum_Bish
Bubbagum_Bish

@Elranzer That's because the PS4/XB1 have more no real improvements aside from minor graphics/performance update. This generation is a lot less exciting compared to all the other gens.

hystavito
hystavito

@Bregzeinkul  Yeah, that's a good way to put it.  What worries me are those times when I feel they take it too far.

robbiejones
robbiejones

@Bubbagum_Bish @Elranzer  loved the 6th generation. it had the most gameplay improvements and improved the 3d platforming which was great, however i also liked 7th gen for making the controls Alot more bearable

ccgod
ccgod

@Bubbagum_Bish @Elranzer So what you're saying is that the start of a console will have the same graphics as it does 4 years from now? This came out on xbox360 now look at gears of war and the last of us and tell me games won't look better a few years down the road

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XwVw2_STHs

naruto945
naruto945

@Gallowhand @naruto945 @Evanduil  I know there are female pilots theres one on the front cover of gameinformer when they previewed it but I said "Titan" as in mech with boobs.